A military helicopter drone that can fight fires

The so-called K-MAX, the sleek-looking unmanned helicopter is 52 meters long and 48 meters wingspan. Traveling at a top speed of 115 km / h.

(U. S. Marine Corps)

What if an ultra-sophisticated flying robot designed for extreme military missions can take part in the battle to combat wildfire in addition to the human fire?

The largest forest fire in California history rages, with fire officials stating earlier this week that an area almost the size of Los Angeles to be compromised.

It is actually expected to burn through the rest of August, and experts predict the escalation in frequency and size of wildfires will only continue to rise.

Robot reinforcements, deployed for difficult missions by the US army in the battle zones, it can help save lives and property when fires strike the homeland.

“Thinking” the helicopters that fight fire

California arsenal fighting fires is with a helicopter so smart, that the fly itself. It is a bit like a robot, and he combined in a helicopter that functions as a drone.

The so-called K-MAX, the sleek-looking unmanned helicopter is 52 meters long and 48 meters wingspan. Traveling at a top speed of 115 km / h.

This incredible plane is a result of a partnership between Kaman Corp. and Lockheed Martin, combining Kaman’s phenomenal high-altitude, rugged, heavy-lift K-1200 airframe and Lockheed Martin’s mission management and control systems that the helo remarkable mission smarts.

In 2011, K-MAX became the first unmanned helicopter to fly a resupply mission, delivering approximately 3,500 pounds of cargo to Afghanistan.

In theatre, K-MAX takes on jobs that would have otherwise put human personnel at risk. Supply-truck convoys driven by military personnel, could be an attractive target for the bad guys, for example, so making these deliveries by air can prevent both the ied’s and ambushes.

K-MAX can also be used to reduce the risk in the lives of the firefighters during the wildfires.


Fighting fires from above

K-MAX is an autonomous, platform — aka a “drone.” Drones are usually associated with supervision (indeed, firefighters use drones and airplanes to fly over the wildfire and data collection), but K-MAX is a heavy-hitting fireman drone on the heart, not just an eye in the sky for wildfire scenarios.

For suppressing the fire with water, K-MAX can make use of the tank or wear her giant bucket. The tank and the buckets can be filled on the ground by the harvesting of water from the nearby ponds, lakes, rivers or even a swimming pool to quickly return to the fight with more water.

This helo can also be fire retardant to slow the fire spread. CAL Fire tends to use a slurry mix consisting of a chemical salt compound, water, clay or a gum-thickening agent, and a dye.

Affectionately called the “air tractor” K-MAX has a cruise speed of 91 km / h and can carry 700 litres.

From above, K-MAX can fight wildfire in various ways of cargo drops and single purpose water drops by to build progressive lines with the bucket.

How else can the support of the fire department?

In addition to dumping water or fire retardant from the sky, the helicopter support of the firefighters on the ground in a number of other ways.

K-MAX can be implemented as part of an initial attack on wildfire. K-MAX can drench the fire with water to create a safe landing zone for the fire department. Other helicopters are designed to carry personnel can dive behind a deposit of nine-person fire crew wherever the water or foam are dropped, to keep fighting against the fire.

Forest fires are incredibly dangerous themselves, but they also ranted about the terrain, that was very dangerous or difficult without the added challenge of fire.

K-MAX can access steep, rocky or unsafe areas and stamp out the fire from above with water and fire retardant so that the fire brigade do not have to put themselves at further risk in that dangerous terrain.

What is crucial here is the smart helo can also be used to supply fire department. All on its own, the drone can be running missions for the delivery of goods to multiple fire departments, at four different locations, with its four-hook carousel. Each hook can be activated independently.

As soon as deliveries are completed, K-MAX returns to the home base during a single flight and with minimal ground operator oversight. And it can do this through the advanced “autonomy”.

At sea level, the rugged drone could carry 6,000 pounds of supplies; for the fire brigade to fight in the mountains and high altitudes at about 15,000 ft. the density of the height, K-MAX can deliver up to 4,000 pounds of supplies.

Imagine if a fire crew is at a remote location and cut off from the road delivers. Teams can be for days, if not weeks bravely fighting the fire with only what they could carry to eat, drink and fighting fires. Aerial delivery as this can be critical and save lives.


How does the K-MAX work?

K-MAX can autonomously fly its own missions day or night, making accurate deliveries on his own.

A pilot can also jump into the single cockpit and fly, and a third option is to be flown remotely by a fire response ground controller.

In this latter case, with a rugged laptop, a ground controller can upload the mission flight plan to the drone before launch. At any time during the flight, the controller can upload the mission is to get the plans to adapt to the rapidly changing problems with forest fires and fire crew needs.

At the drop site, the drone-or ground-controller can maneuver the aircraft to perform a precision delivery of water or fire retardant.

K-MAX is designed to excel in challenges, such as the high temperatures of the fires. The helo has two counter-rotating, intermeshing main rotors instead of a tail rotor drive system. This brings the engine power directly to the main rotors to improve elevator performance, while preserving performance in the intense heat.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries, who recommends the highest level of defence and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, to purchase, in 30 countries. Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”, where she gives listeners a direct access to the most fascinating of the Special Operations warriors each week and to learn more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist, click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.


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